Purpose ' This purpose of this paper is to respond to calls for further research into consumer pre-purchase decision-making, and investigate thefactors that cause a customer to make a decision to save for retirement.Design/methodology/approach ' Exploratory research using eight focus groups was undertaken in Sydney, Australia with a total of 55 participants.The data were analysed using the approach suggested by Cresswell and includes coding into chunks, development of themes, interpreting, andvalidating findings.Findings ' Three key findings emerged from the research. First, there are certain internal, external, and risk factors that have a major impact onpropensity to save for retirement. These are: involvement level, motivation, needs and wants, family influence, marketer influence, competitive options,financial risk, functional risk, and psychological risk. Second, no clear and universal gender differences in the pre-purchase decision-making processemerged during the focus group discussions. Finally, alternative options for spending and addressing risk negatively influence pre-purchase decisionmakingand therefore the desire or ability to save.Research limitations/implications ' This study is constrained by its exploratory nature. Consequently, future research could utilise quantitativemethodology to confirm findings and allow generalisation of results. Also, a study incorporating ethnicity would add breadth to the findings.Practical implications ' Managers and policy makers benefit from understanding that marriage and turning 40 years old are highly influential to aconsumer's likelihood to save for their retirement. This information is particularly useful for the development of marketing and communicationcampaigns.Originality/value ' This is the first exploratory study of pre-purchase decision-making which researches the triggers for buying complexfinancial services associated with saving for retirement.